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Sophisticated, intimate and more than a little homey isn’t typically how tech-industry offices are described, but that’s exactly what JHL Design, of Portland, Oregon, achieved when it converted the penthouse of a 1927 building into a functioning workspace.

Having served myriad uses in its lifetime, the 371-square-metre space is defined by its pitched concrete walls (it’s situated under a mansard roofline) and exposed columns. When those walls – which had been painted multiple times and covered by drywall over the years – were stripped down to their rawest state, the residual staining and pockmarking offered a dramatic finish that Holly Freres, JHL’s principal, opted to work with rather than eliminate.

The original concrete walls were left in their time-worn state throughout. Here, a custom conference table by Quartertwenty is surrounded by classic Eames chairs in a meeting room.

Having lived in Japan for many years, the client had an affinity for that country’s architecture, which JHL nodded to by framing a central communal area with a cedar and glass wall system. “The wood form follows cues from shōji screens, but modernized,” says JHL creative director Liz Morgan. The offices and meeting rooms surround this space on the other side of the walls. 

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1A cluster of Cloud Softlights by Vancouver’s Molo fills the vault-like space, effectively softening the exposed concrete and ductwork.

2Wall systems made from Alaska yellow cedar and glass flank the office’s central zone, providing privacy while still allowing light to pass through. The shōji-inspired structures feature custom pulls one metre in length.

3A grouping of residential-style furnishings – including a leather sofa from CB2, Neri&Hu’s Capo lounge chairs and Yucca Stuff’s limestone and walnut coffee table (the latter two are from The Future Perfect) – greets visitors to the office.

To outfit the communal area, the team layered in furnishings and materials with an overtly domestic vibe, reflecting the growing trend toward “resimercial” workspaces.

The existing columns naturally divided the room into three zones, which the designers reinterpreted as a library sandwiched between two lounges. All of them were kitted out with soft, sculptural lighting; furniture was upholstered in leather and wool. The feeling, overall, is more cozy corner than corner office.

An Oregon Office by JHL Design Combines Industrial Drama and Home Comforts

For a local tech office, a design by Portland’s JHL eschews a corporate look for something more “resimercial.”

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.